DogTime salutes New Mexico’s Gentle Souls Sanctuary and founder, Becca Pearson.
How did your organization get started?
We had been fostering, rescuing, and rehabilitating dogs for a number of years and noted the disproportionate number of bully breeds and Pit type dogs (or dogs labeled as such) in local shelters. When we brought in a deaf Pit mix in 2009 with a bullet fragment in his skull, we were taken by his incredibly gentle nature and saw that we needed to do more.
At that point, our director and founder had lost her job of ten years with no notice. Believing strongly that everything happens for a reason and struggling to find full time employment she had more time to foster dogs and felt a calling to do something close to her heart. Initially the focus was on acquiring land for a sanctuary, but with the high cost of the real estate market in Santa Fe, that goal quickly became a long term goal and we are organized as a network of foster families at the current time.
What is your mission?
Rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming bully breeds, especially deaf bullies and other targeted breeds.Restoring the image of Pit Bulls and other misunderstood breeds by challenging breed discrimination.
How do most of your animals find their way to you?
Most of our dogs are on their last days at McKinley County Humane Society in Gallup, New Mexico, where Pit Bulls are not adopted out at all. Or we are contacted by Albuquerque Humane.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Dogs receive an initial medical evaluation, treatment, spay/neuter, microchip, and are placed in appropriate foster homes. When the dogs reach optimum physical health to rule out behavioral issues that may be caused by ill heath, dogs are treated as family members, allowed socialization with dogs of all ages, cat tested, and given basic training.
If behavioral issues are noted, efforts are made to desensitize the dogs to stimuli that may be an issue, such as cats, larger or smaller dogs, men, loud noises, or any fear that may cause reactionary behavior or fear aggression. If necessary, dogs are evaluated by outstide experts and allowed socialization in local doggie daycares.
Dogs with healthy social skills are allowed off-leash at area dog parks and are given ample exercise for health and to burn off energy. Dogs are then evaluated for adoption and made available on Petfinder or local adoption events. It is our hope that all dogs in our care will be adopted into forever homes that are appropriate for their individual personalities and requirements. We consider all dogs to be capable of rehabilitation and that focused attention time and effort to dogs as individuals is required. Dogs are not at risk for euthanasia so there is no clock ticking for their rehabilitation.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
Luigi was taken from his owner by a district attorney in a Northern New Mexico town due to charges of animal cruelty. He was very skinny, and his ear had been cut with scissors in an attempt to mark him as a fighting dog. He was scared, frantic in fact, when he was not allowed to be around other dogs.
The shelter was full and the local foster home provided was unable to keep him indoors so Luigi was then taken in by a rescue near Albuquerque with crowded and loud kennel conditions. He quickly contracted kennel cough. By the time Gentle Souls took him, he’d had been treated for his cough for 10 days, but inexplicably he had worsened and all his ribs were showing. He was urinating blood and alternately lethargic and frantic. An Albuquerque vet then diagnosed him with several tick borne diseases and upped his dosage of antibiotics. He grew more ill.
At that point, we took him to our own vet, who took him off the antibiotic. Luigi turned out to have a severe allergy to the antibiotic he had been given for several weeks and it nearly killed him. He was put on natural immune boosters and recovered quickly. His frantic eyes softened, he gained weight, and his foster home fell in love and adopted him.
Now, he has no sign of any tick borne disease, but he does have two Pit mix sisters, a cabin with five acres, a loving daddy, and two kitty friends that he cleans gently. He sleeps in the bed with his daddy and loves to spoon. He takes long mountain hikes daily and his fears have subsided. He is a calm and loving dog.
Interested in supporting the great work of Gentle Souls Sanctuary? Consider a donation to their emergency medical fund, helping dogs like Bradley, Luigi, and Lucio.